Location, Location, Location. Is it Important?

I have been prompted to write this blog based on a text message I received tonight from a bride  contemplating where she and her fiancé should host their engagement session next week. She sent me two images from my portfolio asking where they were taken? One image (which I will show later in this post) was taken next to a Meijer parking lot in Port Huron, the other, in the forest in Breckenridge, Colorado. I shared that with her and then replied, "See, I can make magic anywhere."

The truth is, photographers in fact CAN make magic anywhere. I have found in my journey as a professional that I care less and less about where we are taking pictures, or what the subjects are wearing, or how the weather is panning out, but more and more about the interaction and connection between my couples. Your engagement session/family session/wedding day is truthfully not about the scenery behind you, or the accessories you've added to your outfit. It is about you and your partner, your family, and the love and realness you share for each other. 

As a growing artist, I typically feel most inspired by randomness or spontaneity. Some of my favorite images have been taken on the way to the designated location, or are of areas that I spotted out of the corner of my eye while shooting elsewhere. Some of those stories I have shared with associated images below.

While this is not a new concept or theory, I have heard mentors discuss this topic on several occasions and I know many other photographers share these feelings, I simply want to reiterate. This is our job, our eyes are trained for this and you have hired us because you like what we do and you trust us with your most precious and important moments. I am not by any means implying that you should not consider locations, you do not have to totally rely on me to place you next to dumpsters or compost piles and create masterpieces. I think if there is space meaningful to you, or you have a vision, please share. What I am implying is that with the type of work that I strive to create, location is not high on our priority list. The more creative freedom and trust you put in your photographer the more likely you are to have incredible, unique, raw photographs. 

Here are a few images taken over the last year in the most random, maybe least expected, but beautiful places. The point that I am trying to make is that location is really not all that detrimental to the quality you will receive. So instead of scouting or stressing, focus on your partner and on what means the most!

These are the images that were taken directly next to the Meijer parking lot in Port Huron, MI. What you don't see is what she is really looking towards. A very busy road, gas stations, super markets, and I think even a Best Buy. (This is the location that was asked about that I discussed at the beginning of the post. She was shocked to learn where these were actually taken.) 

These are the images that were taken directly next to the Meijer parking lot in Port Huron, MI. What you don't see is what she is really looking towards. A very busy road, gas stations, super markets, and I think even a Best Buy. (This is the location that was asked about that I discussed at the beginning of the post. She was shocked to learn where these were actually taken.) 

This couple wanted to take pictures near a lighthouse. We pulled into a parking lot and I told them to come stand in front of this garage. The maintenance garage for the park, full of tractors and tools. There are two volunteers near us working on the landscaping. We still took pictures by the lighthouse, but these were my favorite. 

This couple wanted to take pictures near a lighthouse. We pulled into a parking lot and I told them to come stand in front of this garage. The maintenance garage for the park, full of tractors and tools. There are two volunteers near us working on the landscaping. We still took pictures by the lighthouse, but these were my favorite. 

These are always easy. Just a random abandoned building in Detroit, MI. The canvas does not need to be vast or pretty, what makes this image is their chemistry and sweetness towards each other. There is a dumpster directly to the right of us. It may actually be what is causing the shadow in that bottom corner. I saw this red building while driving to the couples chosen location, and had them stop there with me on the way home. 

These are always easy. Just a random abandoned building in Detroit, MI. The canvas does not need to be vast or pretty, what makes this image is their chemistry and sweetness towards each other. There is a dumpster directly to the right of us. It may actually be what is causing the shadow in that bottom corner. I saw this red building while driving to the couples chosen location, and had them stop there with me on the way home. 

This is more an example of spontaneity. The bride initially wanted to take pictures on the Detroit riverfront. We were running very short on time and after watching the bridal party try to hustle in  heels, I cut the long trek short and stopped them in front of this structure. There was also a limo driver shouting how much time we had left off in the distance. But we got some beautiful shots.  

This is more an example of spontaneity. The bride initially wanted to take pictures on the Detroit riverfront. We were running very short on time and after watching the bridal party try to hustle in  heels, I cut the long trek short and stopped them in front of this structure. There was also a limo driver shouting how much time we had left off in the distance. But we got some beautiful shots.  

Disc Golf Course in Royal Oak, MI. We may or may not have interrupted 2-3 games (sorry). We could have been standing in the middle of a landfill or the Taj Mahal. Who cares when you have wind and snuggles!

Disc Golf Course in Royal Oak, MI. We may or may not have interrupted 2-3 games (sorry). We could have been standing in the middle of a landfill or the Taj Mahal. Who cares when you have wind and snuggles!

The side of a lawnmower warehouse in Plymouth, MI. We were taking pictures near a fountain when I spotted this bright building a few streets over. The bride and groom were just as pumped as I was and the guys in the warehouse were a lot confused. One even rode over on a commercial size lawnmower and asked if we wanted to use it in the shot. 

The side of a lawnmower warehouse in Plymouth, MI. We were taking pictures near a fountain when I spotted this bright building a few streets over. The bride and groom were just as pumped as I was and the guys in the warehouse were a lot confused. One even rode over on a commercial size lawnmower and asked if we wanted to use it in the shot. 

I do not think I realized this at the time, but it was definitely a very large compost pile inside of Metro Beach. And the tall grass? Overgrown weeds probably thriving on all of the compost. This is such an eyesore in the middle of the park. And of course I am drawn to it. Surrounded by parking lots and buildings and pavilions. 

I do not think I realized this at the time, but it was definitely a very large compost pile inside of Metro Beach. And the tall grass? Overgrown weeds probably thriving on all of the compost. This is such an eyesore in the middle of the park. And of course I am drawn to it. Surrounded by parking lots and buildings and pavilions. 

I have no idea what this is even called. A hay shed? A big white dome that keeps hay dry? Whatever. I liked the light. And I had everyone crawl up there as we were walking past it to the open field for formals. What you do not see is that they are actually a good six feet off of the ground. And beneath them is a lot of old probably not functioning farm equipment. I am standing on something that a horse pulled to harvest fields in 1886.  I should probably start having bridal parties sign liability waivers. 

I have no idea what this is even called. A hay shed? A big white dome that keeps hay dry? Whatever. I liked the light. And I had everyone crawl up there as we were walking past it to the open field for formals. What you do not see is that they are actually a good six feet off of the ground. And beneath them is a lot of old probably not functioning farm equipment. I am standing on something that a horse pulled to harvest fields in 1886.  I should probably start having bridal parties sign liability waivers. 

A vestibule of a hotel venue. We were walking inside from taking formals on the beautiful grounds and I stopped the bride for a few portraits. The opening of the doors was creating huge gusts of wind. I have a whole series of the veil blowing, one of the bridesmaids was on wind patrol, opening and closing the door for us. 

A vestibule of a hotel venue. We were walking inside from taking formals on the beautiful grounds and I stopped the bride for a few portraits. The opening of the doors was creating huge gusts of wind. I have a whole series of the veil blowing, one of the bridesmaids was on wind patrol, opening and closing the door for us. 

This photograph was taken on an abandoned lot in Detroit, MI. I was in a neighborhood I used to live in. We had been shooting at an iconic mural building down the road when I pulled off here. What you don't see is the barred liquor store 30 feet to the left, or the burnt and decaying homes behind me. All I see are beautiful ferns and happy babies. 

This photograph was taken on an abandoned lot in Detroit, MI. I was in a neighborhood I used to live in. We had been shooting at an iconic mural building down the road when I pulled off here. What you don't see is the barred liquor store 30 feet to the left, or the burnt and decaying homes behind me. All I see are beautiful ferns and happy babies. 

This is from a family lifestyle session I did recently. We are in their backyard, leaning on the monkey bars of their children's playscape. Underneath them is a sandbox and right next to me is a 12 month old trying to climb a slide. 

This is from a family lifestyle session I did recently. We are in their backyard, leaning on the monkey bars of their children's playscape. Underneath them is a sandbox and right next to me is a 12 month old trying to climb a slide. 

This couple is standing in the middle of the street in front of their first home together. She asked if she needed to put her shoes on. I said, "Do you normally wear shoes?" To which she replied "Nope." Then absolutely you do not have to put your shoes on. I had suggested doing the session at home, and was excited that they were for it. We had zero outfit changes and shot here, in the back yard and inside of the house. Still one of my favorite e-sessions to date. 

This couple is standing in the middle of the street in front of their first home together. She asked if she needed to put her shoes on. I said, "Do you normally wear shoes?" To which she replied "Nope." Then absolutely you do not have to put your shoes on. I had suggested doing the session at home, and was excited that they were for it. We had zero outfit changes and shot here, in the back yard and inside of the house. Still one of my favorite e-sessions to date. 

This was taken inside of the baby's nursery. Cute right? Only the nursery is very unfinished. We are standing in an unfurnished room with ladders and tools and paint buckets and dust. We started shooting in another part of the house but I liked the light in this room more. 

This was taken inside of the baby's nursery. Cute right? Only the nursery is very unfinished. We are standing in an unfurnished room with ladders and tools and paint buckets and dust. We started shooting in another part of the house but I liked the light in this room more. 

A parking garage in Detroit, MI. This is the first couple that I convinced to hang out up here with me. Everyone's reaction is, "Ehhhhh, a parking garage." BUT SERIOUSLY. One of the best views in the city. And it's free. And typically empty because no one wants to park on the top only to have to drive 10 floors down. I win. We all win. 

A parking garage in Detroit, MI. This is the first couple that I convinced to hang out up here with me. Everyone's reaction is, "Ehhhhh, a parking garage." BUT SERIOUSLY. One of the best views in the city. And it's free. And typically empty because no one wants to park on the top only to have to drive 10 floors down. I win. We all win. 

Here is just a simple white wall in the choir room at a small church in Bad Axe, MI. What you do not see is the hundreds of chairs stacked behind me, the very dated red carpet, or the dropped florescent light ceiling. We were locked away in a room waiting for the ceremony to begin with one lone window. And it was still perfect. 

Here is just a simple white wall in the choir room at a small church in Bad Axe, MI. What you do not see is the hundreds of chairs stacked behind me, the very dated red carpet, or the dropped florescent light ceiling. We were locked away in a room waiting for the ceremony to begin with one lone window. And it was still perfect. 

I am including this one because it was actually at a location that I despise shooting at and I had shared that with the couple. It is overshot and boring and always full of people and cars and garbage and poles and other things in my way of being creative. The couple was persistent so we went with it. And I even proved myself wrong. Magic can happen even when I am convinced it can't. Disclaimer, I am related to these people, typically I would not ever completely shut down a location idea, just offer opinions and suggestions. They proved me wrong here, which taught me to not only expect my clients to trust me, but I also can put more trust in them and my own abilities. 

I am including this one because it was actually at a location that I despise shooting at and I had shared that with the couple. It is overshot and boring and always full of people and cars and garbage and poles and other things in my way of being creative. The couple was persistent so we went with it. And I even proved myself wrong. Magic can happen even when I am convinced it can't. Disclaimer, I am related to these people, typically I would not ever completely shut down a location idea, just offer opinions and suggestions. They proved me wrong here, which taught me to not only expect my clients to trust me, but I also can put more trust in them and my own abilities. 

And lastly. I feel like this one isn't even fair and I went back and forth on including it, but it WAS random and unplanned. First, let me just say, anyone who lives in the mountains, hooray for you, because regardless of wherever you are you have thousands of feet of greatness just surrounding you. I walked out of the Whole Foods on this trip and almost started crying in the parking lot because it was so majestic. However, back to the spontaneity, we had already shot formals earlier in the day. Thankfully my assistant pushed me into pulling the couple out of the reception to drive down the road for more. This was simply the road that we drove in on to get to the wedding. Behind me are three cars so patiently and gracefully waiting for us to finish. 

And lastly. I feel like this one isn't even fair and I went back and forth on including it, but it WAS random and unplanned. First, let me just say, anyone who lives in the mountains, hooray for you, because regardless of wherever you are you have thousands of feet of greatness just surrounding you. I walked out of the Whole Foods on this trip and almost started crying in the parking lot because it was so majestic. However, back to the spontaneity, we had already shot formals earlier in the day. Thankfully my assistant pushed me into pulling the couple out of the reception to drive down the road for more. This was simply the road that we drove in on to get to the wedding. Behind me are three cars so patiently and gracefully waiting for us to finish.